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A Tower of Giraffe steal the show.


The summer rains have turned the Bushveld into many shades of green. Trees are sprouting new leaves and the dams are filling up fast.The view from Warthog Lodge over the lush Bushveld never fail to impress.The Woodlands Kingfishers have returned from their winter climes, their unmistakable melodic calls heralding their arrival. Other migratory species such as the Wahlberg's Eagle will wait until later in the year to return - and return they will as they chase the summer; kites and cuckoos, swallows and bee-eaters, starlings and fly-catchers, a myriad species to delight and perplex us.

 The afternoon game drive was spectacular, we came upon a tower of 15 to 20 giraffe in the road going about their business. We stopped and watched and got treated by a rare sight. Two males fighting for dominance. The two challengers in the conflict were an older bull and a young male.

In a giraffe fight, males stand side-by-side, pushing and shoving to judge which is strongest.

In evenly matched meetings, blows are sometimes exchanged - dealt by the giraffes' powerful, muscular necks.

The horn-like structures on the stop of the giraffes heads, called ossicones, can inflict injuries but, according to experts, fights rarely get this serious.

"Normally giraffes size each other up and after a bit of stand off and a few swings the fun is over," said Dr Julian Fennessy from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, based in the UK and Namibia.

"When the battles are serious then it often ends in the subservient male skulking away. However, it can end in the death of one of them," he added.

This exchange was not that severe the older bull clearly confident of his position within the herd.

As always, the sunrises and sunsets have been breathtaking in their simplicity and grandeur, and also in allowing all of us to put our lives and those of others, be they man or beast, into proper perspective.

Another sure indicator of summer is the morning and evening melody which plays around the waterholes, echoing across the bushveld. Unmistakable frog calls, chirping insects and birdsong all weave their tunes along the riverbanks, thickets and ponds. Every water source teems with these creatures all intent on feeding, nesting and breeding in an endless, ageless, ongoing cycle

Impala lamb running for dear life

The impalas have a lot of youngsters running around at the moment.  In fact most animals will time the births of their young to the rainy season, which makes the most sense really.  There is more than sufficient water, food and shelter at this time of the year, making their chances of survival that much greater than if they had to be born in the dry season when all those things are hard to come by.

During one evening Braai, we had an unexpected visit by a sounder of Bush pigs, that helped themselves to most of our fresh vegetables and fruit.

 We got treated by displays of amazing animal behaviour. In one instance, young Impala were running around like naughty teenagers. Trying to outdo one another with their speed and jumps. Their mothers decided enough now.  Making a sound between a lion's roar and a dog's bark they descended on the youngsters to sorted them out.

We came upon big herds of Zebra, Wildebeest and Buffalo. The Elephant and Rhino did not make an appearance.  Curcum Dam's resident crocodile was at his favourite place on "bird" island basking in the setting sun.  We did not spot the Hippos, but frequent sightings of Kudu made up for that.The Giraffe stole the show this weekend, we again came upon the two males still fighting and what a fascinating show it is. On our last night, we got treated to 2 giraffes getting it on and what a strange sight that is.

We were fortunate to observe a large group of banded mongoose as they forage for food. They forage in the morning for several hours and then rest in the shade. They will usually forage again in the late afternoon. Mongooses use their sense of smell to locate their prey and dig them out with their long claws, both in holes in the ground and holes in trees. Mongoose will also frequent near the dung of large herbivores since they attract beetles.Low grunts are produced every few seconds for communication. The group had with them this season's pups. Each pup is cared for by a single adult "escort" who helps the pup to find food and protects it from danger.

And so we say farewell to another spectacular week in the South African bushveld in the hope that there will be more amazing encounters to follow  in the weeks to come.  

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One of South Africa's best restaurants can be found in Bela-Bela

Excellent service and fine cuisine

L’Orange Bleue, the restaurant of Thaba Pitsi Nature Reserve (4 star TGCSA) has earned a proud reputation for its excellent service and fine cuisine (Best & only restaurant from the Limpopo in the Top 100 - awarded a Bibendum by Michelin guide NEOS, as well as four stars in the 2003-04-05-06-07-08 edition of Magazine's Top 100 South African restaurants - Selected by BBC Food program as being one of the best Restaurant of SA - selected for Off the Menu BBC show), complimented by a selection of quality wines and liqueurs – for connoisseurs of good living!

This Belgian-French restaurant located at the foot of the Waterberg mountain (17km from Bela Bela) is housed in a turn-of-the 20th century farmhouse, converted into a restaurant with modernity, style and hot orange and blue tastefully decorated.

From Wine magazine’s “TOP 100 restaurants”: “If Bela-Bela is mentioned in your guide” says the Michelin Guide for South Africa, “it is due to Thaba Pitsi...”. The couple who left Belgium to bring this unlikely spot to the gastronomic world’s attention, are Marc (formerly an international rally driver) and Nathalie (a former model). Their restaurant L’Orange Bleue received a Bibendum smiling face signifying quality. Housed in a rebuild farmhouse with a vivid interior, modern furniture and an open-plan kitchen, the restaurant is rescued from the pages of a designer magazine by a quirky sense of humour. The food is simplicity at its best....

Aperitifs can be enjoyed on their thatched terrace, surrounded by the Bushveld atmosphere, while more active guests can work up an aperitif playing a game of tennis or petanque (the French game of "boules"). The main attraction however is the exquisite cuisine, prepared with passion. "A la Carte" dinners accompanied by the chef's specialities from the ingredients for a gastronomic experience. Personal attention and meticulous service are complimented by sheer Latin hospitality. The ambience of the bushveld, the interesting decor and the delicious Belgian/French cuisine make for an unforgettable romantic Afro-European experience.

L'Orange Bleue is the perfect place to celebrate special birthdays, anniversaries, engagements and other private, social or corporate events – truly the ultimate intimate hideaway!

They change our menu every 2 months.  On request, they can also prepare different kinds od splits with crocodile, sucking pig or lamb.

The De Wildt Shingwedzi Cheetah Ranch a must for Mabalingwe visitors

The De Wildt Shingwedzi Cheetah Ranch was established in 1998. Situated in the foothills of the majestic Waterberg Mountains, deep in the heart of the bushveld, the cheetah and wild dogs flourish in this unspoiled environment.

During a two hour tour, visitors have the opportunity to see and learn more about cheetah,
wild dogs, caracal, serval, African Wild Cat and vultures. Watch cheetahs running at high speed chasing a lure or engage in the rare opportunity to meet a cheetah up close and hear it purr.....

Nature lovers will enjoy the spectacular birdlife and abundant game, including hippo, kudu, impala, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, eland, waterbuck and other species such as ostrich and crocodile. A vulture restaurant for free flying vultures is also in operation and up to 140 vultures have been seen feasting on a carcass.

Malaria free and unspoiled by sophisticated development, the ranch is set in the heart of the magical Waterberg bushveld, a mere 160km from Pretoria.

A visit to the sanctuary promises to be an unforgettable experience.